I am sure all of us have experience seeking legal service or advice from lawyers; just to name a few instances – when buying our first house, setting up our own business ventures or when planning the distribution of our assets (earned from our hard works) to our loved ones. Come to think of it, it won’t be an overstatement to say that we probably involve lawyers when we achieve something as well as when we run into legal troubles!
Thus, it is surely handy to get tips in choosing the right lawyer. We hope the following tips are useful to you:
1. Go To A Specialist – if you are buying a house, don’t go to a litigator. It’s just like when you have heart problems; you won’t go to a kidney specialist. As there are many areas in law practice, don’t assume your family lawyer is a “Jack-of-all-trades” as he may not be familiar with your area of concern. The best is for you to ask around for names of lawyer who is good in the area of your concern. If you do not have any friends who can give you some pointers on this, you may visit us at eLawyer– simply fill up our enquiry form, submit it to us – eLawyer will be more than happy to recommend you a few suitable lawyers in that area of practice.
2. Do Background Check On The Lawyer – Once you have identified a potential lawyer to engage, 3 things you may consider doing in order to check his background and track record. Firstly, find out if he is still a member of the Malaysian Bar Council (the “Bar”). For a lawyer to be “legally” in practice and able to render you legal service, he must hold a valid practicing certificate (“PC”), this PC is subject to renewal on an annual basis. To this end, you may either call the Bar at 03-2050 2050 or check his name against data available on the official website of the Bar to see if he holds a valid PC. Secondly, perform a “character or credential check” on him to determine if he is reliable, or has been or is currently subjected to disciplinary actions arising from the breach of any professional ethical rules etc. You may do this by referring to the website of the Advocates & Solicitors Disciplinary Board (ASDB) on the steps and procedures for such verification. The last but not least, do a check on his past and track records in handling the area of your concern. Study his education background and work experiences written on the firm’s website or profile which he is currently practicing with in order to determine his familiarity and competency in handling such cases.
3. Meet The Lawyer In Person – no matter how impressive the lawyer’s track records may be, you should still take time off to meeting him in person. This step allows you to build trust on him, which, eventually leads to a good working relationship especially if you plan to engage him to defend a court proceeding…as it would be a long tiresome process ahead.
4. Always Ask For A Fee Quote Before Appointment – It is wise, albeit troublesome, to do some “fee verification” processes before appointing the lawyer of your choice. At the very preliminary stage, you may briefly elaborate your issue to him over the phone but insist in getting a rough, estimated fees and costs involved verbally. the Legal Profession Act 1976 enlists 2 categories of legal fees, namely, scaled fees (such as those apply to buying and selling of properties, land matters documentation etc) and non-scaled fees (for example, courts’ matters, corporate transactions legal advisory and documentation etc). Consult a friendly lawyer or your family lawyer to check whether the fee quoted to you commensurate with his seniority, complexities of the matter and so on. Legal fraternity is very small, hence, avoid being seemed as doing “lawyer shopping” or face the possible consequences of no lawyer willing to accept your case in future.
5. Accessibility To The Lawyer-In-Charge And Support System – insist on having easy access to the lawyer you appointed. This ensures you the ability to communicate with him on legal issues seeking his advice. The last thing you want is the inability to reach him or he is always stuck in meetings or discussions and has no time for you. Propose or work out a periodic discussion schedule such as to meet with or talk to him over the phone once a week to gain status update of your matter. Also, ask for names of support staff just in case you are unable to reach him personally.